Travel with No Regret

People who know me know I have a wanderlust, especially related to overseas travel. It is a psychological issue that I possess, which strikes me, on average, every year and a half. I wrote an essay about that recently. I’m still teaching at the college level and tell all my classes to travel…especially overseas. We can learn from books or videos, but what you learn is merely two dimensional. Travel and therein lies the greatest teacher. Name a place that you want to visit Paris, the Great Wall, Timbuktu, Petra, or any other location. You can study that destination until hell freezes over. However, spend an hour at that destination, and you will learn more than all the books and videos about that place.

Personified wanderlust

In another recent essay, I wrote about Ti Ti, who is both my granddaughter and my web administrator in Taunggyi, Myanmar. Ti Ti put captions under nearly a 1000 photos that a took on my last trip to her country. I told her that I wanted her to put her special spin on the photo by writing the appropriate caption. This is the caption under my picture of Ko Ko, her father. It is a quote from Oscar Wilde, “Live life with no excuses, travel with no regret.” 

I have a former colleague who throws out bait to me like Norman Maclean would do while fly-fishing in Missoula, Montana. If you haven’t seen A River Runs Through It, see it. In the meantime, watch this last scene, which is the most important.

My friend casts her bait not in the Big Blackfoot River but in letters or postcards that she sends to me. She knows me so well that the morsels don’t have to be large; I raise for one-liners. This was her one line morsel, “Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien’s one-liner was actually from a poem that he wrote in The Lord of the Rings.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Essentially, my former colleague wanted to see what I would take away from her bait. Man, I rose to the bait and devoured it. I bet that I discovered in a couple of hours more than she knew about wandering. I’m into the wandering aspect but, additionally, the wondering also. See the world. You can’t believe what is out there to be seen.

I went five years ago to Myanmar to try to interview the Lady, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. However, while I failed to contact the Lady, I found my granddaughter. Lots of people were fortunate to interview the Lady, but I was fortunate to meet my Ti Ti, her younger sisters, and her parents. They are my family. I have four things in my life that radically changed who I am. The changes were moving to Mt. Lebanon where I learned that I was dumb and poor, two dances with death, and a personal matter. However, Ti Ti and her family was the other event that transformed me. That transformation couldn’t have occurred if I hadn’t traveled.

At the beginning of this essay, I talked about telling all the classes that I have ever taught in over two decade the value of traveling…especially overseas. When I press the issue, some will agree that it is important, but it costs too much, especially since they are still in college with a lot of costs associated with going to school. My retort has always been that it will be too costly not to travel if they want an education.

I discovered another rejoinder.

You can’t afford not to travel.

As with my friend’s Tolkien quote, I tweaked the quote a bit. “Not all those like me who wander and wonder are lost.” To the travel quote, my caveat is “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer and wiser.”